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Jokowi ally found guilty of blasphemy, gets 2-year jail sentence

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - 13:31

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An Indonesian court found Jakarta's outgoing Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama guilty of blasphemy, sentencing him to two years in jail.

[JAKARTA] An Indonesian court found Jakarta's outgoing Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama guilty of blasphemy, sentencing him to two years in jail.

Tuesday's verdict came even as prosecutors had recommended Purnama, 50, nicknamed Ahok, be found guilty of a lesser charge of insulting Muslims and receive as little as two years probation.

A five-judge panel found Ahok "legally and convincingly" guilty of blasphemy.

"We are handing him a prison term of two years and ordering the defendant to be detained," presiding judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto said in reading the outcome.

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Ahok was charged with blasphemy after saying in September that voters were being deceived by people attempting to use Koranic verses to say that Muslims should not support a Christian leader.

The allegations dominated the recent Jakarta gubernatorial election, creating months of political tension and prompting President Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi, to call for unity. Ahok is a political ally of Jokowi.

Before the issue became campaign fodder, Ahok held a double-digit lead over his rivals. He lost in a run-off held April 19 to Anies Baswedan, a former education minister under Jokowi, who secured 57.96 per cent of the vote.

Ahok, who pushed through several major infrastructure projects and streamlined Jakarta's bureaucracy, had been due to step down from the post in October. The incoming governor has vowed to work with Jokowi.

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